Zies’ Pieces: Jackets look to deal Johansen

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Kyle Zies

As the Columbus Blue Jackets storm through the league to the basement of the standings, every player comes under a microscope. Every player. In the 2014-2015 season, center Ryan Johansen flung to stardom as the MVP of the 2015 All-Star game that descended on Columbus in front of a home crowd in Nationwide Arena. In seemingly the blink of an eye, everything has gone wrong for the Jackets. Under new head coach, John Tortorella, Johansen has struggled. Johansen has been called out by the fiery head coach for his sluggish and lackadaisical play leading to swirling trade rumors across the league. The Jackets are looking to increase morale in their locker room and shed the label of a losing franchise. Trading Johansen could be the first major step in that direction. Now, we look at all the potential options for Johansen and the Blue Jackets and in which circumstance, both parties might win.

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Nashville Predators:

The team that has popped up the most in the rumor mill as the Preds are seemingly oh so close to elite status. Adding a bona fide center such as Johansen would certainly do the trick. The Preds also have what the Blue Jackets need, that being depth at the defensemen position. Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, and Matthias Ekholm would all be targets for the Jackets and would be the centerpiece of any deal that happens between the two clubs. The Jackets would seek another roster player and a Nashville draft pick to sweeten the pot and perhaps a deal is made.

 

Minnesota Wild:

Similar to Nashville, the Wild need a first line center to take them over the top and make them a threat in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, and Matthew Dumba (all under the age of 25), the Wild also have plenty of defensemen to offer to the Jackets. Columbus would prefer to send Johansen to the Western Conference, if any deal is made at all, and with the likes of one of their top defensemen, a player, and a pick coming back to the Jackets, the Wild become an intriguing option.

 

Montreal Canadians:

Already perhaps the best team in the league, the Habs are looking to get even better. They have reportedly tossed their name in the ring for the Johansen sweepstakes and are always looking to improve their club. They don’t have the same defensive depth as other trading partners (or at least under the age of 30) which ultimately might shy the Jackets away from making a deal. One would have to imagine in order to swing a deal here, Alex Galchenyuk would have to be offered from the Habs. Being the best team in the league, don’t expect Montreal to feel pressured to make any sort of move.

 

Anaheim Ducks:

The Ducks have been thirsty for goal scoring this year and have just finally started to quench their thirst as they have begun making a playoff push behind goaltender John Gibson. However, a 23 year old center such as Johansen, would never hurt to look into adding. Ducks’ defenseman Cam Fowler has heard his name surface in the rumor mill, along with young Fin Sami Vatanen. However, the Ducks see these two as their most prized possessions and might not be as willing to budge in a deal. It was reported that earlier in the year, Jackets’ general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, was offering Kerby Rychel to the Ducks in exchange for defensemen Shea Theodre but, the Ducks brass balked at the idea.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Here’s a crazy thought. What if the Jackets simply didn’t trade Johansen? Let’s look at the facts. The guy is young, 23, and just had two monsters of a season. Yes, his game has slipped in the 2015-16 campaign but, whose hasn’t on the worst team in the league? Having an extremely dangerous and skilled center opens up space for other guys on the ice as opposing teams attempt to contain Johansen allowing other guys to get in on the action. Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg, and Brandon Saad have all seen increase in their production and would that have happened without Johansen? Maybe, maybe not. But, after seeing the Boston Bruins trade a young center named Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars just a short time ago, has shown the Jackets how this deal could come back and bite them in the butt. All worth considering.

 

Perhaps the biggest factor in this might be Johansen’s upcoming contract. A young star like this will certainly be looking for a rise in salary and are the Jackets willing to oblige with such a tight salary cap already? These are all the questions that currently sit in front of Jarmo Kekalainen and President John Daivdson. This is why they get paid the big dollars so we, the spectators, can sit back and nitpick every move. Not to mention, Kekalainen and Davidson still need to clean up that mess on the ice and give the Jackets’ faithful a winning product. Minor details.

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